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Law School Case Brief

Deparvine v. State - 995 So. 2d 351 (Fla. 2008)


Victim impact evidence is designed to show each victim's uniqueness as an individual human being, whatever the jury might think the loss to the community resulting from his death might be. The admission of victim impact testimony is reviewed for abuse of discretion. 


Defendant was charged with killing a husband and wife after responding to their advertised attempts to sell a pickup truck. The State tracked the victims' movements around the time of the murders through cell phone records. The mother of the wife testified over a defense objection about asking the wife in a cell phone conversation if she was in a car. The wife responded that she was following the husband "and the guy that bought the truck." Other evidence was also presented tying defendant to the killings, including the fact that he was the purchaser. A jury found him guilty of first-degree murder and armed carjacking charges. The trial court sentenced defendant to death. The defendant appealed.


Was defendant's conviction proper?




The state supreme court affirmed the trial court's judgments of conviction and sentence of death. The state supreme court found that (1) no error occurred in admitting the mother's testimony pursuant to § 90.803(1), Fla. Stat. (2003), the spontaneous statement exception to the hearsay rule, as there was no requirement that the statement be made during a startling event; (2) defendant was properly indicted and convicted on sufficient evidence; (3) the trial court did not err in allowing the presentation of five victim impact witnesses regarding the two victims; and (4) defendant's death sentence was proper.

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